The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) wants to attract high-spending visitors from the Middle East in the second half of this year, aiming to use the market as a new tourism growth engine.
According to Apichai Chatchalermkit, deputy governor for tourism products and business at TAT, the authority has been ramping up its efforts to entice high-spending tourists from the Middle East since Thailand restored full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia early last year.
He said Middle Eastern consumers have a positive perception about the quality of health and wellness businesses in Thailand.
According to TAT, the number of Middle Eastern tourists travelling to Thailand tallied 314,882 last year, with nearly 100,000 visitors from Saudi Arabia and around 66,000 visitors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Travellers from the Middle East are regarded as a high-spending group that has relatively long stays in Thailand, said Mr Apichai.
In 2019, travellers from the UAE were in Thailand for an average of 11.4 days and spent more than US$220 per day.
In a move to promote Thai tourism in the Middle East, the TAT recently participated in the 30th Arabian Travel Market, which was held from May 1-4 in Dubai.
The TAT expects tourism revenue to reach 2.38 trillion baht this year, about 80% of the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Of the total, 1.5 trillion baht will come from foreign visitors, with the remainder from local tourists.
The authority predicts 25-30 million foreigners will visit Thailand this year.
According to Mr Apichai, the TAT is planning marketing events to encourage travel to Thailand, including tastings of tropical fruit and fruit buffets in Rayong and Chanthaburi.
The authority is also drawing up a schedule to promote durian in Hua Hin.
The TAT joined forces on Wednesday with Central Food Retail, the operator of Tops, to promote "Thailand Amazing Durian & Fruit Fest 2023", which is being held until May 15.
The event showcases Thai fruit in a bid to stimulate tourism among both domestic and foreign tourists.
The festival has three highlights: a Monthong durian buffet, a durian café zone and a fruit market zone.
Tops expects the event to generate more than 200 million baht in sales.
Apart from promoting fresh fruit, the TAT has talked with retail chain stores about helping fruit farmers process their products to sustain their long-term income.
The TAT also pledged to provide fruit farmers with markets to sell their produce.